Ukrainian Journalist Writes about America

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Adam's Apple, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    UKRAINIAN IMPRESSIONS OF AMERICA
    By Alexey Batourin, The Herald Times
    November 21, 2004

    The American movie industry cultivates the image of “macho” guys who do nothing but fight, swear, and break laws.

    As soon as I departed my flight at the airport, I realized that there is nothing in common between the people of America and the Hollywood characters. On the drive to my host city, two vehicles, a shuttle bus and a car collided before my eyes. The drives were civil to each other; they talked peaceably and went their separate ways. In a similar situation, Ukrainian drivers would bestow a continuous current of strong expletives on each other.

    Americans turned out to be very well-wishing, polite and hospitable people. Never could I have suspected that a passerby who is a total stranger would stop for a brief chit-chat with me and say in parting, “Have a good day!” Wherever I would find myself, I was invariably greeted and apologized to—for something or other. Thus the people of my host city all but dispelled the Hollywood-induced myth of foul-mouthed Americans in a matter of hours.

    I was greatly surprised by people’s unwillingness to walk anywhere. I told one of my new acquaintances about how we were taken to a nearby café by car. The little restaurant was just a couple of yards away or so, and it seemed to me that we spent more time and effort getting in and out of the car. We would probably have been prompter walking on foot. To that my friend noted with laughter that Americans are very lazy. I believe he was off on that one; everyone we saw worked a lot and for all we could see, quite efficiently.

    The multitude of cars in the city streets was further proof that people treat others with respect in America. It is quite in the order of things to give a pedestrian or another car the right of passage. Most Ukrainian drivers worry only about themselves and are forever ready to cut a car in the next lane at a crossing. Here I have never seen any violations of traffic rules.

    I was quite impressed by the modesty of most Americans. Rich people tend not to make too much of their affluence and try not to let it jump in your face. A millionaire may dress like a student and drive a battered car. In our country, an affluent person is immediately conspicuous. The new Russian wave has spawned a set of standard symbols: a rich individual is a habitué of trendy places of fine dining; a chic auto waits for him at the entrance.

    The only thing I did not particularly care for in the United States was the food. We visited a host of various restaurants with our friends; they make some tasty stuff at some of them, yet en masse, the foodstuffs are somehow lacking in character and zing. They are bland, so I proudly claim here that Ukrainian food is tastier. For instance, ham in Ukraine has much more flavor; so does milk. Milk is not milk here; it is plastic. True, I have done justice to the culinary gifts of our friends. Each and every one of them did their best to regale us with one tasty treat or another—and scored a great success doing so.

    I would especially like to state my impressions of my host city. The city seems provincial; it may be due to the status of a university center it is home to. I was amazed to see how many cultural events take place in such a small city, and it is particularly noteworthy that concert programs target audiences with very dissimilar musical tastes. Citizens of the community do their best to make students feel comfortable, and that is particularly attractive for me since I was a student not too long ago and—alas!—had to deal with a very different attitude.

    Leaving for home, I will bear in mind from now on that there emerged yet another place in the world that I will miss forthwith--my host city.
     
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  2. musicman
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    musicman Senior Member

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    I never got a clear sense of which U.S. city Mr. Batourin was visiting. However, since he said he didn't see any traffic laws being broken, I know where he WASN'T - Cincinnati!

    It's refreshing to read a positive reaction from a European for a change. I have a theory about that. Nations which, until recently, were part of the Eastern Bloc, have a stronger appreciation for the U.S.. They have a link to a not too distant past which was quite different from the cozy, pampered existences of our Western European "friends". As such, they are not nearly so spoiled and contemptuous.
     
  3. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    I agree with that theory. And it is good to read positive, first-hand accounts of foreigners' experiences in America. As a country and as a people, we are certainly not what the liberal press/commentators portrays us to be.
     
  4. musicman
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    musicman Senior Member

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    What is it with these assholes? Does their self-loathing really run that deep? Or, is it more the arrogant conceit that they - the enlightened ones (enlightened enough to be ashamed of America before the world) - are somehow better? If they'd like it better somewhere else, I wish the hell they'd GO!
     
  5. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    I've often wondered why the "hate America" crowd don't just emigrate to a country where they would feel more in sync with the political and social environment. I especially would be happy if most of the Hollywood crowd would re-locate. They certainly paint a bad picture of America with their art and their politics.
     
  6. musicman
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    musicman Senior Member

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    Maybe they - like their soul-mates in Western Europe - have become so used to enjoying the benefits of a strong and free America, that biting the hand that feeds them seems perfectly reasonable. I'm often amazed at how little they understand and appreciate this country. If they tried to ply their seditious trash in any of the third-world toilets they defend so staunchly - hmmm....it's almost a pleasure to think about it.
     

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